Morality in Peace Like a River

Topics: Morality, Ethics, Virtue Pages: 3 (858 words) Published: October 24, 2013
Emily Gao10/8/13
Mr. MagdalenskiHonors English 2
Rewrite of Peace Like a River In-class Essay
Morality is the essence of right and wrong and becomes very hard to define because of the different ways people view what is correct and not. It is a common theme in many novels, such as Peace Like a River by Leif Enger, who explores the essence of moral decisions through a young boy whose brother is convicted of murder. Though the moral level of a decision is based on the impact inflicted on surrounding people and the motives best decide the virtue behind an action, no one can be the judge of morality because everyone holds different opinions that can vary three hundred and sixty degrees on the scale of right and wrong.

The level of human morality is commonly scaled on whether the decision benefits the people around or negatively impacts them despite differing opinions of individuals. For example, when his father was sick with pneumonia and his family desperately needed money, Reuben receives payment for taking down a corncrib. He wants to use the money to buy a canoe, but in the end Reuben spends it on food. He says, “In retrospect it’s hard to believe that I didn’t see instantly what to do with that money. But when it’s the first time you’ve earned by sweat you see it as special and by golly not to be spent on less than the desire of your grasping heart…” (Enger 22). By letting go of his desires and buying food instead, he makes a morally sound decision because it portrays selflessness, wisdom and willpower that is self-sacrificial for the greater good. Now, his family will not go hungry and will have the money to boost their spirits in addition, and even though Reuben had not been able to spend the money on his desires, he positively aided his family, which makes the decision moral.

The main factor for judging the virtue of a choice would need to be motives, which can greatly alter the essence of the decision. In Peace Like a River, Davy,...
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